De Achttiende Eeuw 28 (1996) nr.1-2
Themanummer ‘Het Vuur van de Revolutie’
Bart van der Herten, The French Revolution: a Satanic Conspiracy on the Eve of the End of the World
During the 18th cenury, the idea of the world’s end was not very important in Catholic theology. In theological and apologetical writings eschatology was treated in a very abstract way, without referring to the actual situation of the world. Nevertheless, two elementrs made the change of Catholic eschatological thought possible. First of all, protestant theology had developed a very strong eschatological tradition which could be adapted to Catholic interpretations. Secondly, explaining Revelation as a prophecy of the history of the Church, provided a powerful framework for a prophetic interpretation of important political and religious events. In this paper, the negative Catholic eschatological interpretations of the French revolution have been studied. The widespread theory of a conspiracy against the Church gated by the Antichrist and his assistants on earth. Two main are discussed. The gist of the first is the hypothesis that during the period 1789-1800 eschatological thought became an important element of ultra-conservative Catholic theology. Secondly, we have tried to prove that after 1789 ideas about the end of time were integrated into Catholic religious life in a completely new way.
Peter van Rooden, Protestants in the Northern Netherlands and the Revolution
The various Dutch revolutionary movements at the end of the eighteenth century did not give rise to conflicts between Church and State, or between religion and revolution. This was due to a fundamental change in the position and character of religion in Dutch society, which had come about in the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Ministers and public authorities no longer identified religion with a visible, hierarchical order, but its essence was felt to exist in he inner selves of the members of the moral community of the nation. The new religious nationalism was shared by all groups within the nation.
Wyger Velema, 1795 and the History of Dutch Republicanism
The relationship between the Patriot movement of the 1780s and the Batavian Revolution of 1795 has always been an important issue in Dutch historiography. This article attempts to take a new look at that old problem by studying it from the point of view of conceptual history. It is argued that whereas a traditional political approach to the years in question tends to end in an emphasis on the discontinuity between Patriots and Batavians, a conceptual apporach leads to the opposite conclusion. An analysis of the key concepts (republic, liberty, citizenship) used by both Patriots and Batavians shows them to be highly similar and distinclty different from Dutch republicanism before the 1780s. The crucial conceptual shift, it is argued in the article, occured in teh mid-1780s. Conceptually, the Batavians were heavily indebted to the project of republican renewal that had first been formulated by the Patriots.
Stephan Klein, From Patriot to Batavian Republicanism (1787 to 1795)
Dutch historians have never been able to decide whether it was the Patriot movement of the 1780s that marked the beginning of a new era, or the Batavian Revolution of 1795. This article suggests that these either-or-terms should be abolished in favour of a view that at any rate points out the innovative and authentic character of Patriot political thought. Consequently, it is argued that after the Patriot defeat in 1787 a wholly different republicanism emerged. Although the more radical Batavian politicians expressed their views in a political language resembling that of the Patriots, it is evident that behind this rhetorical continuity a very different republican mentality was hidden. A unitary and stadholder-less republic, freed from the old constitutional straitjacket, and safeguarded by a separation between church and state was certainly not the kind of republic that any Dutch Patriot could have had in mind during the 1780s. What made it possible in 1795 was the shattering defeat that ended all republican experiments in 1787, and the emergence of a huge and unitary republic near the Dutch border in 1792.
Tom Verschaffel, Passé composé. Historiography in Belgium in the French period
The cultural policy of the French Regime in the former Austrian Netherlands had obvious repercussions on the contextual framework in which history was created. The most important institutions in the field, the Brussels Academy and the former Jesuit congregation of the Bollandists, (temporarily) dropped out of the picture. Along with them certain historians (among whom a number of priests who refused to take the oath) were forced to cease their activities and/or to leave the country. Those who could stay, had to take up position against (or in favour of) the new regime (in its subsequent forms). Thus the politcal change was reflected in the changes of the historical infrastructure and in the personal, professional, and ideological situation of the ‘staff’. Yet the question remains in what way these fluctuations in the institutional and ideological context really affected the historical production as such. The technical evolution of the historical research and the writing and contents which were the results of the works of the historians of the period, seemed to folloq an internal logic rather than the turbulent political circumstances (the actual situation showd that writers who did not support the regime were able to contiunue to write and to publish; those who did support i it often turned out to be opportunists, whose historical discourse was only superficially marked by a certain lip service to the authorities). The writing of a history of Belgium as a nation began during the Austrian period and reached its culmunation after the Belgian Revolution (1830): this evolution seemed more or less undisturbed trhoughout the French period. The Belgian historiography of the French period therefore may be considered as the result of its own traditions rtather than as a reaction on the fluctuations of the political context.
André Hanou, The Literary and the Political Struggle for Freedom 1780-1800: are there any Links?
Wolff/Deken, Kinker, Bosch, Paape/Schasz, Van Woensel, Bilderdijk, Le Francq van Berkhey – almost all Dutch writers are deeply involved in the political changes during the decades 1780-1800. Perhaps ‘1787’ has triggered more creativeness than ‘1795’. It is noticeable in satires, magazines, novels, plays, and even in ephemerical writings about ballooning or yo-yo’s. It could be argued that Dutch literature, in as far as it is not classically oriented, matures in the ‘patriot’ era. There is a new self-consciousness, an emotional ripeness, an ironic flexibility in language. The urban novel Cornelia Wildschut (1793-1796) demonstrates the moral and political aims of the virtuous citizenry.
At the same time, and earlier than the political development seems to warrant, literature shows that it is not to be deceived by superficial Enlightenment noises. There is a tendency to retire into the country, where eternal truths can be found (Feith, Post). Man – showing himself apish (Paape) – should seek better ideals (Kinker); or, all said and done, does Enlightenment mean anything? (Daalberg)
Theo Clemens, The Fire of the Revolution and the Roman Catholic Church in the Northern Netherlands
Doubtlessly, the Dutch Revolution of 1795 was beneficial for the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands. Even so, for a long time its memory has been rather faint. This contribution may be viewed as an attempt to explain that instance of collective amnesia by pointing out less favourable aspects of the revolutionary experience.
Theo van der Meer, Deliver Society of these Monsters: Sodomites and the Batavian Revolution
At the onset of the Batavian Revolution there was a change in legal policies concerning homosexual behaviour. At least since the first major wave of sodomy trials in the Republic in 1730, prosecution had been based on clear evidence of actual unlawful sexual acts. The mere desire to commit sodomy did not constitute a crime, as a lawyer said in that year. However, from 1795 onwards some courts began to prosecute and sentence people for just expressing that desire. This practice continued after 1811, when the public indecency article of the Code Pénal was applied especially – and often in arbitrary ways – to sodomites. A growing public violence towards them, as well as a growing public cooperation in arresting sodomites, show a greater support for sodomy trials than ever before.
The change in policies after 1795 may have been due to political and personal antagonisms with the ranks of the courts and to personal zealotry of prosecutors and judges. Yet it also reflects profound changes in the perception of homosexual behaviour since 1730. In discourses `the’ sodomite and his counterpart,the sexually orthodox male, had become gendered individuals, who could be distinguished from one another by their effeminate (whorish) or masculine appearance. After 1795 sodomites were prosecuted rather for what they were supposed to be than for what they had actually done.
The question is raised whether changes in legal policies after 1795 were caused by the Revolution, or whether this question should be turned around. Was the Revolution possible at all, without the appearance of this gendered individual, who at least for himself could claim moral equality with his counterpart?
Paul Janssens, The fate of the Belgian Nobility in the Years of Revolution 1789-1799
Before the French invasion there was no important anti-aristocratic climate in the Austrian Netherlands and the `Principauté de Liège’. The persecution of the nobles was introduced by the French. Although some noblemen accepted the revolutionary ideals, the nobility as such was held responsible for the setbacks and defeats of the Revolution. The persecution of the nobles was used to keep up the revolutionary ideal of equality. This turned out to be indispensible , because nothing was undertaken to abolish actual property rights and social inequality.
Towards the end of the revolutionary period the financial status of the Belgian nobility had improved. The revolutionary measures against the possessions of the nobility had affected onlyb the ‘impoverished’ nobles. This was at variance with the real aim of the Revolution, namely the levelling of the larger fortunes.
The abolition of the nobility in 1790 gave rise to the introduction of the republic, whereas Napoleon and William I had to reintroduce the nobility to back up their monarchist claims. This is in accordance with Montesquieu’s ideas. The French Revolution proved what was later on again demonstrated by the Russian Revolution: no pluralistic political regime without inequality of wealth.
Willeke Los, Domestic versus Public Education: the Making of Patriotic Citizens and the Revolution in the Netherlands
The influence of the Batavian Revoltion on the reform of elementary education has been a matter of debate in Dutch historiography. Some authors interpret the Batavian schoolreform, as enacted in the laws of 1801, 1803 and 1806, in terms of political restauration, while others stress the continuity with enlightened ideals, formulated in preceding years. In order to develop a well-balanced view of this problem, one should distinguish between proposals regarding the organisation of education on the one hand, and proposals concerning the contents of education on the other. In this way it becomes clear that on the level of organisation ideals, as formulated previously, were not realised. Plans for a national elementary school were not implemented, owing to financial problems and political controversies. On the other hand, however, regulations with regard to the school curriculum, the training of teachers, and the supervision of schools were laid down in three successive laws. These regulations derived for the greater part from ideas formulated in the discussion on education and schoolreform in the preceding years.
Ellen Krol, Domesticity of all kinds and degrees
The portrayal of domesticity in literature is closely related to the concept of the national character, which was very prominent in eighteenth-century thinking. But what does domesticity actually mean? What is understood by the word? When people are talking about `ancient national usage’ there is an underlying idea that this comprehends (1) a domestic (economical) attitude, (2) a patriotic mentality, and/or (3) a predeliction for a `quiet, regular way of life’. In this contribution the development and mutual relationship of these three connotations are discussed; withal the links with economic patriotism are defined, as well as with a branch of the philosophy of happiness, namely the ethics of contentment.
Eveline Koolhaas-Grosfeld, `Economic Painting’. The Representation of Fraternity in Dutch Painting of the late Eighteenth Century, in particular of Adriaan de Lelie
This article focuses on the genre paintings made by the successful artist A. de Lelie (1755-1820) in the revolutionary period between 1794 and 1800, for patrons whom we know to have been supporters of enlightened reform. Most of these paintings are reminiscent of the seventeenth-century realistic style, at this time praised as the ‘national’ style, but they are clearly contemporary as to dress and setting. We wish to suggest a correlation between the subject-matter of these paintings and the theme of union and fraternity, so important in the Batavian period. The term ‘economic’ refers to this ideological content. In the eighteenth century ‘economic’ was closely related to ‘domestic’ (huisselijk), both in terms of one’s family and in terms of one’s nation. At this time both words were also given the psychological connotations of ‘familiar’ (gemeenzaam), that is to say of attachment to one’s own circle and to one’s fatherland. Especially people who favoured social reform used the word ‘economic’ for everything that could foster the welfare of the entire community.
This introductory explanation is meant to help one to understand why the hitherto almost unknown painting by A. de Lelie The Visit to the Ironfoundry (fig. 2) may be called an ‘economic’ painting. It is a portrait of the wealthy Rotterdam merchant Huichelbos van Liender, known as a great champion of a new general welfare policy by means of promoting science and industry. The painting has been conceived as a conversation piece, an informal group portrait expressing friendship. The remarkable aspect is that in this case it focuses on the contact between a prominent burgher and a plain factory worker. In this way the painting expresses the enlightened idea of fraternity as a condition for the prospering of industry, and hence of society as a whole. The ideological content is all the more remarkable because just before 1800, when de Lelie painted this work, the Republic was the opposite of a harmonious and wealthy country. Actually the picture is in line with the strategies for recovery, developed theoretically by concerned patriots: two specimens of the latter are discussed in depth.
The political scientist J.H. Swildens had high hopes of Oekonomie-kunde, that is to say the growth of knowledge about trade and industry throughout society. This would prevent people from holding on to their prejudices. It should be noted that Swildens published his essay as an introduction to his translation of the famous political book Ueber den Umgang mit Menschen (first edition 1788) by baron A.F.F. von Knigge, who was a member of the Freemasons’ lodge of the Illuminists. The patriot and writer A. Loosjes regards the progress of the knowledge of human nature (Menschkunde) as the means of improving society. The best way to acquire this knowledge is to meet all kinds of people: rich and poor, young and old, male and female; Loosjes refers to these as the different conditions of life (levensstanden).
After a discussion of some popularizing moral-philosophical works by Loosjes on the various ages and classes, the last part of this article focuses on the interior pieces by de Lelie. The Bourgeois Interior (fig. 10) and the Dutch Kitchen (fig. 11) were companion pieces, ordered by J. Gildemeester, whose rich collection of paintings by seventeenth-century and contemporary masters was auctioned in 1800. As the text in the catalogue explains, these two paintings depict the various levensstanden. As interpreted here, they do not only include the clearly recognizable (personifications of the) ages, but also the different classes. These are represented by differences in dress (note for example the sleeping child and the maidservant), in a non-garish manner reflecting the revolutionary morals of the period. But the social gap is bridged by glances of sympathy and familiar manners. In this way de Lelie bestowed on those paintings that ideological value I have called ‘economic’.